[Advaita-l] Re: Advaita-l Digest, Vol 2, Issue 5

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Mon Jun 9 21:20:30 CDT 2003

>We have compartmentalized philosophy so much so that
>we have almost lost the meaning of "Brahma-jignyAsA".
>We start out with conclusions depending on our respective
>schools of thought, and then worry about shAstra.

It looks to me as if that is precisely what you are doing.

>If I am an  advaitin then I have six pramANas,  if I am a dvaitin
>I only have three.
>If I am a vishishTAdvaitin then Brahman is also material cause,
>if I am a dvaitin then He is only efficient cause.

So tell me, as a brahma-jijnAsu, what does SAstra say, irrespective of the 
school of thought you inherited at birth? You used the term "only efficient 
cause" so you cannot appeal to svatantratA and paratantratA of causes.

>If I am an advaitin then there are two Brahmans- saguNa and NirguNa.

Sorry, that is a complete misunderstanding of our position. If I remember 
right, you were the one who said that the word brahman means different 
things in different places in the Sruti. Not that I disagree with you, but 
advaita does not say that saguNa brahman is one thing and nirguNa another. 
The dvaitins like to think that advaitins say so, but that is a fault of 
misunderstanding, which lies not on our side.

>If I am a dvaitin / V.advaitin then there is only One Brahman.
>If I am an advaitin,  all I need is the four-mahAvAkyas to understand
>the rest of the Agama.  If I am a dvaitin,  then you need entire Veda.

That again is a misunderstanding of advaita and a highly biased sentence 
construction. If you want to start from biased assumptions, it is little 
wonder that you come to biased conclusions.

>If I am an advaitin,  I am already Brahman whether I want to be or not.
>If I am a dvaitin,  then I will never be Brahman  even if I want to be.

There is no question of wanting or not wanting to be brahman. Logically 
speaking, you either are or you aren't. You don't become. On the other hand, 
Sruti is apaurusheya and you cannot fit Sruti into the straitjacket imposed 
by human logic. You cling to logic; we use logic to go beyond logic.

>Anyway, since you asked,   I belong to a school of thought where
>parabrahman is considered  jnEya,  gamya and the The Highest Teacher.

As someone else pointed out, this doesn't say much, for I too belong to a 
school that says parabrahman is jneya and gamya. Now that we know, from your 
other posts, that you belong to the dvaita school, we know exactly where we 

>So far we have stated the difficulties in holding the superimposition of
>Atman and anAtman.   These difficulties are framed in accordance with the
>teaching of Advaita vEdAnta itself.

It is not the goal of advaita vedAnta to prove that Atman and anAtman are 
superimposed. Rather, the goal is to show the negation of the 
superimposition that is a matter of daily vyavahAra. Take just one example, 
"AtmAnaM ca prokshya" is a regular ritual rule in pUjA and upAsana. What do 
people do? They sprinkle water over their heads so that the water falls over 
the physical body. So, Atman here is taken as the body, for it is impossible 
for any human being to physically do prokshaNa of even the manas, leave 
alone of Atman. So, adhyAsa need not be proved, for it is a matter of 
course, for both secular and sacred activity. Does that mean that Atman 
means the body, in the sentence, "aitad Atmyam idaM sarvaM, sa AtmA"? No. 
advaita begins at this apavAda. There is no point in saying "you cannot even 
begin asking who is this AtmA without the body". We sequentially do apavAda 
of other things that may be referred to as AtmA till we arrive at the real 
Atman, which is brahman.

This approach is totally lost on some people, and that is the major trouble 
with dvaitins trying to analyze advaita vedAnta, whether in a genuine effort 
to understand it or in an effort to criticize it. It is one thing to say 
that you are uncomfortable with the pedagogical technique of 
adhyAropa-apavAda. On the other hand, do not think that advaita tries to 
prove adhyAropa. Move on to how we do apavAda some day, and then you will 
better appreciate the upanishadic teaching, if that is indeed the goal.


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